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The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

How to stay safe when studying abroad

Being far from home in a strange land is exciting, but also has its challenges. We give you advice and tips on what to do to keep your home, your things and yourself safe in your new life.

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Arriving in a new city and at a new university is an exciting time for international students. There are so many new places to explore and interesting people to meet that it’s easy to be distracted and for your attention to slip. Staying safe when you’re far from home is important. We take a look at the simple things you can do to keep your things and yourself safe while also enjoying your new life and having fun. 


Keeping your home safe 


Whether you’re staying on campus or renting privately, this advice still applies. Make sure that the door to your building and your room door is always locked, even when you’re home. This applies to windows too. Lock your windows when you’re not in that room and definitely at night.  


You mustn’t leave money, bank cards and other valuables lying around. Try to keep them in a safe place out of sight. It isn’t just money and laptops that are valuable. Today, identity theft is also a risk. Your passport and other documents, such as bank account information are valuable to criminals. Make sure that you get insurance for your valuables and take photos of the items and the items’ serial numbers.  


The final piece of advice in keeping your home safe may be one you didn't think of. Don't leave any packaging from expensive items outside your house near your trash/rubbish bins. This tells criminals that you have brand new expensive equipment in the property.  


Find out more about choosing student accommodation.  


Keeping your things safe 


Keeping your possessions safe when you’re out and about is hugely important. Make sure that you don’t wear very expensive jewellery or show how much money you are carrying. Keep your phone and wallet close to your body in a place that isn’t easily accessible to others, especially in crowded places.  


When you’re working in a library or coffee shop, don’t leave your laptop, phone or bag unattended. Take them with you if you need to go to the toilet or ask someone to keep an eye on them for you, but never leave your phone or money lying around.  


When you’re getting money from a bank or at an ATM, make sure you look around you and keep your pin (secret code) hidden. If the ATM looks very dirty or broken or you think that something isn’t right with the machine, don’t put your bank card in it. Find a different machine.  


Lastly, when paying for things by bank card, never let the shop/restaurant/cafe person take the card from you and if they do, make sure you can always see the card. It is easy to copy bank cards and details with machines and apps, so it’s important that you keep hold of it and never give it to anyone else. Don’t tell anyone your pin, and never write it down. 


Speaking of finance, read more about opening a bank account as an international student. 


Keeping yourself safe 


The most important thing of all is keeping yourself safe. Things and money can all be replaced. You’re far more important than anything else, so here’s some really important information: 

Things to do 

  • Get to know your street, area, and new city/town well. Know what areas you should avoid. 

  • Keep to well-lit, streets with houses and people. 

  • Download useful apps such as taxis, train, and bus timetables, etc... Some apps track your location, so family and friends know where you are. Some apps also live stream videos and audio and have built-in alarm buttons that you can activate even when your phone is in your pocket.  

  • Book a taxi in advance when you know you’re going out at night and going home alone.  

  • Let your friends know where you’re going, who you’re seeing and when you’re going to be back. 

  • If you’re meeting someone new, ask your friends to call you in the middle of the meet-up to check that you’re ok. 

  • If you’re feeling unsafe on a date with someone new, go to the bar and tell the bar staff that something is wrong. In the UK, there’s a secret code that if you go to the bar and say: ‘Can I speak to Angela?’ they know that you’re not feeling safe and will help you.  

  • Keep your drink where you can always see it.  

  • Tell your friends or staff in the bar, club, or party if you start to feel dizzy or sick after having a drink. Ask them to keep you in a safe place. 

  • If you feel sick or dizzy after taking a drink or feel that you’ve had a needle put in your skin, contact the police immediately. 

  • Check that your friends are also doing these things. 

Things not to do 

  • Chat on your phone or listen to music when you’re walking/cycling on your own at night. You need to be able to stay alert and hear everything around you if you can. 

  • Walk on your own at night to try to find a taxi. 

  • Leave your drink unattended.  

  • Don’t drink something you didn’t open yourself or see being opened and poured. If you didn’t see it being opened or poured, you don’t know what’s in it. 

  • Worry about not being polite. Sometimes as an international student abroad you may be worried about seeming rude or being too loud. If you feel unsafe, it doesn’t matter if you walk away from someone or shout and scream. Your safety is more important. 


Useful websites 

The following websites show national statistics on crime in the top destinations. Having this information can help you make more informed decisions about which country or city to choose as your study abroad destination.  

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